Internet Backs Dad Whose Parents-in-Law Disapproved of His Homeless Past

The internet has reacted in outrage after a father shared an unusual dilemma on Reddit—his wife's estranged parents dislike him because he used to be homeless.

According to the post, shared to the popular "Am I the A**hole" forum, the man was homeless at the age of 23, when he met the woman who is now his wife.

"My wife was the first person who was nice to me," he wrote in the message, which has more than 20,000 votes.

"[I] almost got kicked out of this small restaurant when I was trying to avoid the rain. She was there and pretended that we were meeting so they'd let me stay. Got a free meal and we talked for a long time. She really helped turn my life around, stuff like helping me fill out job applications. From there we became good friends. 2 yrs after that, after getting my shit together first thanks to her, I asked her out on a date."

He added that her parents disliked them dating because they thought he was "trash." Four years into the couple's relationship, with him in a "steady full time job to help with the bills," they still didn't approve. Her parents didn't attend their wedding or reach out when they had a son.

That son is now 16, the father explained, and his wife's parents "contacted us out of the blue. They still don't care to talk to either me or my wife but they were 'willing to put their feelings aside' to get to know him. We never went into details with him about why we don't talk to them and he's never asked much before."

He went on: "We left the choice to him if he'd like to meet them. And he agreed to it. He's gone over to spend time on several occasions the past 3 months. Finally the other day he asked us why we didn't keep in contact with them. To him they seemed like nice people so he doesn't get what the conflict was.

"They told him we stopped talking over a conflict we had but left out that they were the ones who didn't want to see us."

Upon hearing what had happened, the son "got mad" at his grandparents and decided he no longer wanted to speak to them, the man said. The grandparents "think we're a**holes because they were finally building a relationship with him and we ruined it."

Father and son
Stock image of an unhappy father and son. Getty Images

Strained relationships between married couples and their in-laws are common, though this is an extreme case. In fact, research has found that it is generally rare for the son-in-law to be the focus of parental displeasure.

In 2008, Cambridge University psychologist Dr Terri Apter completed a 20-year study of family dynamics. She found that 75 percent of couples reported problems with an in-law—and most disagreements involved the female family members. Contrary to the cliché, only 15 percent of mother-in-law/son-in-law relationships were described as tense.

In this case, the Reddit verdict was clear: the man was not at fault.

"Did the grandparents actually expect you to lie about the reason for the estrangement?" asked one user. "Honestly, I would consider OP [the original poster] and wife to be at fault if they didn't tell their son the truth."

Others agreed that the only way the father would be at fault is if he had failed to be honest with his son.

One Redditor thought: "The only thing I think original poster and wife are slightly the a**hole for is I think they should have told their son from the beginning. It was bound to be information he wanted, and it's no surprise he would realize what ugly people his grandparents are. I think he would have been less hurt if he hadn't bonded with these people before knowing their true colors.

"But I understand you wanted him to be able to make the choice about his relationship. However, I think he had a right to know before deciding if he wanted a relationship with them."

Another commented: " You weren't spiteful or cruel, you didn't lie or even exaggerate. Heck, you didn't even go out of your way to stand in the way of their having a relationship with your son, despite everything your in-laws had done to hurt you.

"The truth is this simple: If your in-laws had been more genuinely compassionate people, at any time in all these years, then your own son, who you've clearly raised to be a thoughtful young man, would have had more compassion towards them as well.

"They are living with the consequences of their own actions, as difficult as that may be for them to face, and you are [not the a**hole]."

Another put it even more succinctly: "You shared the truth. If that reflects poorly on them, that's because they are."